Tectonic history and setting of a seismogenic intraplate fault system that lacks microseismicity: The Saline River fault system, southern United States


Although the northwest-striking Saline River fault system of southeastern Arkansas is not defined by microseismicity, it is associated with sand blows and shows evidence of Pleistocene and Holocene surface ruptures, suggesting a significant seismogenic potential. This fault system is within the northern Gulf of Mexico interior coastal plain, a region only recently recognized as containing seismogenic faults. To better characterize this active fault system, we reconstructed its post-Paleozoic history using petroleum and coal industry wire-line well log and seismic reflection subsurface data.The Saline river fault system initiated as a series of northwest-striking grabens during Triassic/Jurassic uplift and incipient Gulf of Mexico rifting along the basement Alabama-Oklahoma transform margin of the North American Proterozoic craton. During post-rift subsidence, these grabens were buried by Gulf sediments until mid-Cretaceous uplift and igneous activity resulted in minor extensional reactivation of graben faults. Faulting style changed from extension to transpression during the Late Cretaceous due to compression of eastern North America as the North Atlantic rapidly widened and due to thermal weakening of the Alabama-Oklahoma transform lithospheric discontinuity as it obliquely crossed a mantle hot spot. In the Late Cretaceous, graben faults experienced contractional reactivation and steep, deeply-rooted transpressional faults developed within and parallel to the graben system. These transpressional faults locally displace Eocene, Pleistocene, and Holocene sediments.Fault activity continues on the Saline River fault system due to thin crust along the Alabama-Oklahoma transform and to high heat flow, which act together to weaken the crust and promote seismogenic tectonism. The fault system may lack appreciable microseismicity because the aftershock sequence of the last large earthquake has had time to dissipate. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

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